How to stop your knees dropping in when you squat
When you squat do you find that your knees drop in or that you drift over to one side? One of the causes of this can be one or both glutes are weak. If the glute is weak then it means that the knee can drift in causing the foot to fall in (pronate) which creates a twist in the knee (tibial valgus and medial rotation). This is not good and over time may lead to injuries of the knee, hip, ankle or lower back.
Try this -
Stand in front of a mirror and squat to around 90º or lower if comfortable. Note that you may need to add some weight as this dysfunction may only occur when more weight is added than the Glutes can handle.
What do you see? Do you notice your weight shifting to one side? Does one or both of your knees drop in?
If your weight shifts to one side and one of your knees drops in then you will likely have a weakness in the glutes on the side you are drifting away from or that the knee is dropping in. The reason for this is that the glutes are external rotators of the upper leg bone (femur) and when they are weak they can't hold the femur from dropping in wards which then makes your knee drop in.
If you notice that both knees are dropping in then the same principle applies. We need to find out if it is weakness in the glutes that are causing the knees to drop in. Place the band around the knees with enough tension that you can feel it pulling the knees inward. Then squeeze the knees apart and squat and see if the knees stay straight and don't drift in.
Now try this - Place a band around your knees with enough tension on it to feel like it is pulling your knees inwards. Now squat again. Do you notice any change? Does your knee now not drift in? When you put a band around your knees this will mean that the glutes have to work to stop the knees dropping in.
What if the knees still drift in?
There are many things that can affect the way we squat and the knees dropping in. Other things to consider can be a structural issue in the ankle, foot, knee or hip. There may also be restrictions in the soft tissues of the hips and legs that are causing this as well. Muscles like the adductors can pull the knees in, especially if the glutes are weak. Also if the calf muscles are tight then your knees will likely drop in to get deeper into the squat. These are things that need to be assessed to find out exactly where the issue is for you.
Repeating the banded squats whilst keeping he knees tracking over the feet and not dropping in will help to strengthen your glutes. You can do 3 sets of 10 on a daily basis gradually increasing the band resistance as it becomes easier. If you find your knees always drift in when squatting then squatting with a band every time will help. You can also do this a warm up before you squat in the gym.
Other exercises to help strengthening the glutes, especially to prevent the knees from dropping in include clams, crab walks, banded lunges and monster walks. Hip thrusters are also great for general glute strength.
If you have any questions or want to have your squat assessed then we are here to help.